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Welcoming a new (familiar) face!
It’s with deep regret that I inform you of my pending departure from Open School. On September 18th I will be transitioning to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland as their next CEO. This is truly a bittersweet moment for me as I was planning to work with Open School for a much longer period of time when I relocated to Portland (from Texas) 3 years ago. A big part of my reasoning for stepping into this particular opportunity is because I am an alum of the Clubs and they were pivotal to shaping my life during my formative years. So it’s a dream job for me to use the leadership skills I’ve acquired over 16 years in the non-profit space as a Black executive to contribute to the program that changed my life.
It breaks my heart to leave you all and our students because my love runs deep for the Open School community. This community has given much more to me than the work I put in to it. You all introduced me to In Lak’ech. You stretched me to lead through our Community Agreements. You challenged me to exercise shared decision making practices. You pushed me to be intentional about culture building. And most importantly, you always made me feel at home when I was in programming space connecting with students. I will always miss how you move as a team and community and will forever be thankful that I was afforded an opportunity to be shaped by you.
I am so proud of everything that our team has accomplished in my three years here. Some highlights include:
- Led the organization through a strategic planning process to establish a clear vision and tactical plan toward advancing equitable education in partnership with our six school district partners.
- Diversified our senior leadership team to be majority BIPOC and better reflect the demographics of our staff and student body.
- Secured a new contract with Portland Public Schools to grow our Step Up program by 50% at Roosevelt, McDaniel, and Franklin High Schools. This increased contract in the face of stark budget cuts by the district is a tremendous endorsement of the power of the Step Up model and proof of PPS’s commitment to investing in kids of color. If you haven’t already seen our new Step Up video, you can learn more about the program here.
- Grew Open School East from a new startup to an innovative leader in equitable education. We added 10th-12th grade and have continued to lead the community demonstrating that kids who face the most serious challenges can thrive in an environment that focuses on equity, advocacy, and academics.
- Rose to the challenges of Coronavirus. While this past spring’s distance learning was traumatic for all students, it was especially hard for our students who rely on the food, resources, and relentless love at Open School. Yet we rose to the occasion and by the end of the school year, 85% of students engaged with us on a daily basis, exceeding the results at our community’s comprehensive schools.
- Celebrated our first-ever graduating class at Open School East. We are so proud that 91% of our seniors graduated. While we wish we could throw a huge party for them, we need to keep our community safe in the time of this pandemic that has disproportionately hurt Black and Brown communities, so we are doing small family ceremonies that will be livestreamed throughout the day on August 29. Learn how to watch the Class of 2020 Graduation virtually here!
I am grateful to be able to remain in close collaboration with Open School through our innovative East County Campus Collaborative, which includes Open School, Boys and Girls Club, Latino Network, and New Avenues for Youth. I’m lucky to have Open School as a part of my life. I know Open’s next leader will continue to push for excellence for our kids. And I look forward to continuing to support this work as a partner, volunteer, and donor.